Will This Runners’ Foot Strike Study Lay The Heated Debate To Rest? You Decide.

Here's another research finding to throw into the ring of the foot strike debate that always makes the rounds in running circles. Heel, forefoot, or midfoot strike? Who's right?

This argument uses science to try and settle the debate. Turns out there's not much difference at speed, so it looks like everybody's right. Now, they did only look at 10 runners, so one could argue that it's a pretty small sample.

We tend to agree that each runner should work with and use the form that suits them best. You know your body and what feels natural to you. Don't try and adopt a form that doesn't come naturally to you because that can lead to injury and put you out for a while.

For regular people who run, we have a different suggestion as we've stated in another article. There's also a tip in there for runners, so you might want to have a look at that as well.

The Best Running Form According to Science

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A man and woman run along a roadside bicycle path. The man wears barefoot running shoes and hence uses a fore-foot strike while the woman strikes the ground heel first since a more cushioned shoe accommodates this running technique.

 

For years, the most efficient way for a runner's foot to strike the ground has bitterly divided the running community. There are the barefoot advocates who think squarely on the forefoot is the only way to land, the cushion apologists whose shoes force a heel-toe motion, and the followers of shoes like Newtons, whose design promotes a midfoot strike.

A new study may take the wind out of all of these arguments. Researchers compared 10 sub-elite runners with varying styles and found that strike styles didn't make much of a difference in terms of contact and flight times, step length and rate, anaerobic threshold, or VO2 max. The only significant difference was that the heel strikers were 5.4 and 9.3 percent more economical at around seven and eight miles per hour (that's 8:30 to 7:30 minutes per mile), which were slow paces for these runners. Once they sped up, the disparity disappeared. “What we're seeing here is that there's really no right way to run,” says Eric Rohr, biomechanical engineer and senior manager of Brooks Sports' human performance lab. Instead of obsessing over foot strike, Rohr says that runners should allow themselves to follow their natural style.

Brooks labs – and other companies like Asics and Nikes – are doing extensive research on individual running styles, giving credence to the idea that everyone should run differently because our bone shapes and muscle strengths vary. In order to take advantage of personal running styles, Rohr says that runners of all levels should concentrate on increasing mileage and speed, strength training, and cardio building.

So what about all of the barefoot advocates who use shoeless (and minimal shoe) running to convert to forefoot striking? Rohr says that such forced changes could cause unnecessary injury – especially if you're currently not experiencing pain. Ana Ogueta-Alday, sports researcher at the University of Leon and author of this study, agrees: “If I don't have any injuries and if I am comfortable at that foot strike pattern, I would continue with that,” she says.

SOURCE: Taylor Kubota at the MensJournal.com

IMAGES: ARTICLE by Chris Hunkeler on Flickr, HEADER by Official U.S. Navy Imagery on Flickr, FEATURED by Sangudo on Flickr

Author: Peter Tiedemann

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